Electricity production started in Nepal with the construction of 500 kW Pharping Hydroelectric Plant in 1911. Though electricity production started in Nepal more than 100 years ago, Nepal has not been able to meet its energy demand. People are well aware that Nepal has high electricity production capacity through its rivers, but in the midst of hydroelectricity other potential energy resources like wind has been completely misunderstood and neglected.
In order to meet the required amount of energy, industries install their own electric power plants powered by coal, diesel, solar and wind. Such power plant set up by any person to generate electricity primarily for own use and include a power plant set up and used only by a cooperative society members, known as captive generation. Since industries and firms in Nepal are facing huge shortage of electricity, they have been using diesel generators for captive generation to meet their energy demands, though very expensive. On the other hand, many big industries in Nepal are located at windy places, and can benefit from harnessing wind energy to meet their energy demands and lower the cost. This would also lower the operational and production costs.
Captive power generation is for the user industry for bridging the demand and supply gap. It is the best alternative to meet the demand of the industries that are suffering from inadequate power supply and high tariff rates.
Unit-based captive power generation means pressure on fossil fuels, loss of economies of scale and built-in capacity under utilization. Basically, wind captive generation benefits the following:
- Social well-being:
- Development of supporting infrastructure such as road network
- Reduces the dependence on imported fossil fuels and associated price variation thereby leading increased energy security
- Environmental well-being:
- Use of renewable energy source for electricity generation instead of fossil fuels-based electricity generation, which would have emitted green house gases
- Economic well-being
- The project activity requires temporary and permanent, skilled and semi-skilled manpower at the wind park; this will create additional employment opportunities
- Technological well-being:
- Increased interest in wind energy projects will further push R&D efforts by technology providers to develop more efficient and better machinery in the future
Apple-based food processing industries of Mustang, poultry industries of Nawalparasi, cement industries in Dang and tea factories of Ilam are some types of industries that can benefit from harnessing wind energy. For example, according to the data from Nepal Journal of Science and Technology, annual average wind speed and power density at 75 meters above the ground are 8.05 m/s and 851 W/m2 in Kagbeni. Similarly, Midwest region of Nepal such as Dang and Karnali has a huge potential for wind power plants, but no wind data has been recorded so far due to the lack of interest from the government of Nepal.
Application of captive wind power generation can surely fulfill energy demand of various industries of Nepal. For example, a modern poultry farming demands electrical power throughout the day, throughout the year. Energy is used for several purposes: lighting, heating, cooling, ventilating and running electric motors for feed lines. A poultry industry standard for sizing a backup power system is 1-1.5 kW per thousand birds in the flock. If an average flock size is 24,000 birds per house, then an average generator size is likely to be between 25 kW and 35 kW per house. Unexpected power loss can affect the health of the chickens, and it will lead to an economic loss. To avoid such losses, small generators are used to supply emergency power, but power generated from these diesel generators is very expensive and leads to high operational and production cost. Those poultry farms located in windy zones can choose wind captive generation to avoid power scarcity and to fulfill their energy need in the lowest cost possible.
Captive generation through wind can address present energy crisis of Nepal, and wind power projects can be completed in a shorter time compared to hydro power projects of the same capacity. What we need is a proper policy from the government of Nepal and its commitment to promote wind power by working with private organizations.